MSA British Rally Championships regulars Rob Swann and Darren Garrod have announced that they are returning to the Barbados Rally Club's premier event, Sol Rally Barbados, which runs from May 28-30, and they have just one aim in mind, victory in Group N.
Swann finished second last year after an event-long battle with eventual winner, Bajan driver Geoff Noel, and Trinidad-based Jamaican John Powell.
Swann's Subaru Impreza N14 will be backed by Barbados roadside assistance business Automate CGI and west coast hotel Waves, in addition to his regular UK sponsor Revolution Wheels.
Like many before him, who had first visited the Caribbean island to go rallying, Swann has become 'hooked' on Barbados in a very short space of time, and will return with his family in February for what will be his eighth visit in two years.
“When I received the e-mail just before Christmas saying entries were open, a smile came across my face. Rally Barbados is the best motor sport event of the year! I have made many friends over the last couple of years and I entered immediately, as it's so much fun,” said Swann.
“We are doing some British Championship rounds in 2010 and selected rallies for 'fun', but I think if I only did one rally a year it would be Barbados.
“We had such a great Group N battle last year and I really need to take the win this time round. The Subaru is currently having the new 2010 upgrades, such as 33mm restrictor, which will help the cause, and close the gap to the WRC guys slightly.
“Having now competed twice, I have a good feel for the stages, so we will be very competitive and its time for a win!”
On their first visit in 2008 with an Impreza N11, Swann and Garrod placed third overnight in Group N – Production 4, as the category is named in Barbados – but an early scare on Sunday morning resulted in them slipping to fourth.
Last year, with the new N14 and better knowledge of the stages, they were in the hunt from the start. They were second fastest on the opening stages, first to Powell then to Noel, each at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, but a startline puncture on stage three cost them 15 seconds; even so, and boosted by a stage win on the third Sailor Gully, they were third at lunch. Powell lost 80 seconds – and the Group N lead - to a puncture in the afternoon and, with a total of 10 second-fastest times in the day, Swann was only three seconds behind Noel at bed-time.
Spurred on by the opposition, Noel claimed another five stage wins on Sunday; Powell's hopes of pulling back his deficit faded, while a puncture on the last Malvern, then rain on the last stage, finally did for Swann's committed charge.
Swann is among ten overseas entries already received on-line, and he will benefit from the incentives offered to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the inaugural running of the Barbados Rally Club's International All-Stage Rally.